Most people if it is there first time attending a networking event they are nervous so you’re not alone if you feel this way. I know it is hard going into a room full of strangers but you will be happy you did as it can allow you to grow your business and get hands on market research. It is also important according to About Money that the number of people at the event does not matter for it is be a success. It all about quality over quantity for example many people believe that going into a crowded room full of people makes the difference in networking, however it is better to have two people who can help each other on a regular basis than have a large group of people that have the “what’s in it for me attitude” which is one of the biggest mistakes people make when go to networking events. It is all about helping each other.
Before The Event
The day before the event is the time where you need to put real effort into preparing yourself for the day of the event. First of all you need to decide your goals for the event such as the real reasons you are going to the event and what you actually hope to achieve from the event. You might want to meet certain people, to find a resource, make a new friend or to develop deeper relationships with a potential lead.
You need to also make sure you have your business cards ready for the event and our pens and notebook. Make sure you eat before the event as you don’t want to be trying to juggle a plate of food and had out your business cards at the same time.
Find out the dress code of the event by asking the event co-ordinator. For e.g. some events can be business formal and a suit will be expected but others are business casual which will have a more relaxed style. By knowing the dress code beforehand it will allow you to fit in with the crowed.
At the Event
The golden rule especially if it is your first time attending a networking event is to get there early when there isn’t going to be as much people there. Make sure you walk in with a smile, even if you’re nervous. This will allow you to be seen as friendly, enthusiastic and very approachable. Make sure you to remember to “work the net” which is remembering your clear goal and objectives of attending this event. It is a lot better to mingle with a relevant three or four people than too talk to everyone, as it’s all about building real relationships with people. Ask your host to introduce you to people you don’t know, if you’re feeling nervous.
When you do meet a person, shake their hand and also repeat their name. This will show that you’re actually making an effort to listen to their name properly. Know how to describe your business in one to two sentences, this sometimes is referred as an elevator pitch. Listen more than you talk. There is no easier way to build real relationships with people than to show them that you actually care what they have to say. Also ask questions about their work and listen to their responses so that you begin to understand the person. You need to know what kind of people that you can help so they can do the same for you. It’s about creating a win-win situation for both parties involved. The highly effective networker will take the time to cultivate a rapport.
After The Event
After the event is where the real work begins. After all you are really only at the event to meet people and build a deeper relationship with people. Now you need to make sure you follow up with them within 24 hours in order to build and maintain the relationship. If there was a clear win-win connection, you should ring them up or invite them for lunch to explore the connection even further. A good tool I like to use for networking is LinkedIn by adding them the next day and writing a personal message to them and even asking them for coffee/lunch like I mentioned earlier. This is where you can just listen to your new friend and see what they require; you may even find that you can offer your services to them, but only after you listen first.
Some rules to keep in mind according to About Money is be the first person to offer a referral, drop the “what’s in it for me attitude”, thank the person who gave you the referral and follow up with a referral within 24 hours.
Watch this quick video on some networking tips